Inspired by a young swim instructor at the YMCA, Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes, developed the Peter Gilgan Leadership Award (PGLA) to recognize exceptional youth who work at the YMCA.

We are excited to honour the 2018 recipients of the Peter Gilgan Leadership Award at our Award Ceremony. Please join us!

Thursday, August 23
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Peter Gilgan Family YMCA
410 Rebecca Street, Oakville ON

Funded through the Peter Gilgan Charitable Foundation, the award is presented each year to five YMCA of Oakville youth employees who have made notable contributions to the YMCA and the Oakville community. The award consists of five bursaries of up to $5,000 that are given annually selected employees to assist them with their post-secondary education costs.

Congratulations to the 2018 Peter Gilgan Leadership Award Recipients!

 Kwasi Adjei
Master of Management of Applied Science, Western University

 Kwasi’s YMCA journey began in the summer of 2005 as a camper in Sports Camp, Adventure Tours and Challengers. Even though he had just moved to Canada from Ghana a few months before, the friends he met at camp already made the YMCA feel like a second home. When camp was over, he knew he wanted to remain part of the Y and joined as a member. The next summer, Kwasi knew he wanted to take his involvement a step further and he enrolled in Counsellor in Training (CIT) camp, so he could become a camp counsellor. After CIT, he worked with older campers at Valens and his passion was evident. That summer, he received the Summer Camp Volunteer of the Year award. From 2013-2015, Kwasi worked at various summer camp locations and during the 2015 school year, he helped out in the drop-in Volleyball program at the Y. This led to counsellor at horseback riding camp in 2016 and another award, the Summer Camp Spirit Award.

To Kwasi, his YMCA experiences have provided him an opportunity to grow and develop. Last summer, he accepted the challenge of a more senior role as program coordinator for the River Oaks Camp location. Looking ahead, Kwasi has big plans. By fall 2019, he plans to graduate from the Master of Management of Applied Science and in five years, he would like to work in the field of project management, marketing or finance. In 10 years, Kwasi’s goal is to focus on bringing scientific innovations from concept to market in biochemistry of the pharmaceutical field.

Benjamin Jarvis-Frain
Bachelor of Engineering, Engineering Physics, McMaster University

 Ask anyone who knows Ben and one of the first words that come to mind is “leader”. As a Summer Camp Inclusion Counsellor for the past three summers, Ben has had the opportunity to not only develop strong leadership skills, but also, to become a role model for other counsellors and campers.Through his work with special needs campers, Ben has made an impact on many. His ability to demonstrate inclusiveness helps campers of all levels participate in games and activities, and his skill in handling challenging situations has helped broaden the abilities and knowledge of staff. Ben’s expertise in promoting healthy community-building skills led him to being recognized as Counsellor of the Year in 2017.

Throughout the years, it seems Ben has always taken on leadership roles. In high school, he joined the school’s welcoming committee to become a support system for new students. He also initiated various clubs that helped first year students connect and find mentors. Thanks to his work as an inclusion counsellor, Ben is determined to use his education to improve the lives of others, whether through the creation of assistive technology to help those with physical impairments or conducting research to give rise to developments that will better the lives of everyone.

Michael Kwon
Bachelor of Commerce, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

 Michael has been part of the YMCA since 2003, when he started taking swim lessons and Taekwondo. As time went on, he knew he wanted to become more involved in teaching others the same water safety skills he had learned. That’s when he decided to complete the required training to teach lessons. After Michael became a swim instructor and lifeguard, he knew he wanted to play a bigger role in the aquatics department, and realizing there was a need for more certification courses for swim instructors, he worked with his supervisors to help create one.

Michael’s desire to contribute also led him to volunteering with the Y for the annual Taekwondo Kick-a-thon fundraiser to help children and families in need participate in YMCA programs. Outside of the Y, Michael has also volunteered as Senior Leader for Alter Service Volunteers and a summer camp counsellor at his church. In high school, Michael was also the section leader of the school orchestra and president of a club he founded called the Student Action Wellness Committee to create awareness about mental illness. In the future Michael would like to start a business that reaches out and advocates for many people and encourages equality of the human condition.

Taylor Lepage
Electromechanical Engineering Technology, Sheridan College

Taylor was already familiar with the YMCA when it was time to select an employer for the mentorship portion of her engineering program at Sheridan. She knew the Y was the perfect place. Not long after starting her mentorship, Taylor began to shine. Through volunteer shifts each week in the maintenance department of the Peter Gilgan Family YMCA, her desire to learn new skills was evident as she worked alongside the Facilities Manager. It was this passion that made her the ideal candidate when a weekend maintenance position became available, and she officially became part of the YMCA.

Since being hired, Taylor has demonstrated strong leadership skills. She has taken on the role of Service Leader, ensuring staff are doing well and managing issues that arise during her shift. She has also been appointed to the Health and Safety Committee due to her unwavering attention to detail and desire to help. It seems Taylor has always had a desire to give back. Over the years, she has volunteered with Learn to Skate, Goodwill and Home Suite Hope. Working at the YMCA while being in school has helped Taylor put what she learns into action and the experience has been invaluable. In Taylor’s words, it’s helping her to create a better future for her children. Looking ahead, Taylor would like to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional engineer. She hopes to obtain a job or internship with an engineering company such as Siemens or Bombardier, while continuing to work part-time with the YMCA.

Nicola Taccone
Master of Professional Kinesiology, Brock University

Nicola has been part of the YMCA for eight years. Shortly after starting work in the aquatics department, her knowledge and leadership ability led to a promotion to head lifeguard, lesson facilitator and weekend deck supervisor. Her strong commitment to her work led to receiving the SAM 2.0 Award in 2015 in recognition of quality service to YMCA members. Ask anyone who knows Nicola and they’ll tell you she has always been committed to helping others. In high school, she participated in several fundraisers, clubs and teams, including collecting food and money for local food banks, organizing camping experiences for fellow students and volunteering as a swim coach. In 2014, she was selected as Associate Coordinator for the Outdoor Projects course, a camping experience offered by the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Health Education at University of Toronto, and in 2015, became Coordinator. Nicola also volunteered as a First Aid Trainer with the University of Toronto’s Varsity Women’s Lacrosse team and at a physiotherapy clinic, administering interferential current therapy, laser therapy and ultrasound therapy.

Nicola is also passionate about learning, and today, she continues to take as many lifesaving courses as possible to add value to the YMCA aquatics department and recently completed the Lifesaving Society’s National Lifeguard Instructor course to certify future YMCA lifeguard candidates. Nicola’s love for sport and exercise, combined with her love of teaching, led her to apply for the Concurrent Phys Ed/B. Ed program, and once complete, she will attend medical school to become a doctor.


 Past Award Recipients

2017 Recipients2016 Recipients2015 Recipients2014 Recipients2013 Recipients2012 Recipients2011 Recipients
Nikita Cadranel, Evan Lubansky, Caroline O’Brien, Ryan Natividad, Michael Vanstone
Maxwell Boateng, Chenya Bourne, Elizabeth O’Brien, Erica Pettinato, Sarah Rouse
Phebe Abaya, Kyla Champken, Gabriella Paniccia, Connor Smith, Logan Townsend
Sarah Carpenter, Soma Jawed, Nicolas Lehman, Claire Wilkinson, Sean Williams
Sarah Austin, Kevin Das Neves, Marion Goreski, Sumaira Mumtaz, Lindsay Wilk
Jonny De Oliveira, Matthew Ellies, Michelle Ng, Natasha Ng
Sarah Buchanan, Nicholas Morrison, Michelle Ng, Faye Williams